Haider Ackermann was born in Bogota, Colombia, where he was adopted by a world-travelling French couple. The Ackermanns were an unconventional family; Haider had a brother adopted from South Korea and a sister adopted from Vietnam. His father was a mapmaker, and the family followed his job to various cities in North Africa and the Middle East. Haider spent his early childhood seeing the world. Everywhere he went, he absorbed the beauty and mystery of fabric: how women wrapped it and draped it and used it to conceal themselves. When he was twelve, his family settled down in the Netherlands.But the images of kaftans and chadors and hand-painted cloths never left his dreams. In 1994, twenty-five-year-old Ackermann moved to Belgium to hone his talents at the renowned Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. This was the same school that produced Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, among others. At the Academy he was an exceptional talent, but he held his work to extremely high standards. In 1997, this perfectionism got him expelled: he refused to turn in work that wasn’t good enough, so he never finished his assigned collections. The following year, Ackermann took an internship with designer John Galliano. He spent time developing a portfolio and saving money for his first show. At last, in 2002, he debuted his signature label. Just three years later he got financial backers and his own studio in Paris, and from there he ascended quickly in the fashion world. Ackermann’s profile as a designer continues to grow, boosted by praise from Raf Simons and Chanel’s legendary Karl Lagerfeld. His clothing has many famous devotees, most notably the incomparable actress and style icon Tilda Swinton.
Haider Ackermann eschews eye-catching trends and revolutionary design tactics in his clothing. Instead his designs embody luxury in its private and sensual forms. He transforms a simple shirt and jacket into a turbulence of creases and layers and ruffles that, upon scrutiny, are not untamed but perfectly precise. To Ackermann, an exact draping of silks or gathering of fabrics can be more intimate than bare skin. He is inspired by the French concept of “errance”: wandering, escaping, losing oneself. Escaping, to the Ackermann woman, is not about stripping down. It is about a minimalism that romantic yet understated, visceral yet mysterious.